The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:

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Image of Attica uprising
ASSOCIATED PRESS/ New York State Special Commission on Attica

Forty-five years ago, New York state police raided Attica Prison, a maximum-security institution in a small town in upstate New York. The standoff and takeover led to the deaths of 39 men in what has become known as the "Attica Prison Uprising." Scholar and historian Heather Ann Thompson considers the uprising to be both one of the most important civil rights events of the 20th century and a pivotal moment in criminal justice history.

An image of the book cover for 'Game Changers'
Courtesy of UNC Press

Dean Smith is known as a legendary basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His teams won 879 games and two NCAA national championships.

But one of Smith's most crowning achievements isn't instilled in a trophy. In 1967, Smith recruited basketball player Charlie Scott, the first African-American scholarship athlete at UNC-CH. It was a seminal act for Smith and furthered his push for civil rights in the South.  
 

The Black Man Running group jog in Wilmington.
Courtesy Black Man Running

Putting on running shoes and heading out for a jog is not a straightforward affair for black men. Runner Rendell Smith remembers a white woman who was so scared when she saw him jogging toward her, she dropped her groceries and bolted.

An image of comedian Paula Poundstone
Michael Schwartz

More than 30 years ago, comedian Paula Poundstone hopped on a Greyhound bus and traveled the country performing in small comedy clubs.  Over the years, Poundstone rose up through the ranks of comedy and eventually earned her own HBO special.

Michelle Lanier

Note: This program is a rebroadcast. It originally aired May 2, 2016.  

Michelle Lanier’s roots in North Carolina are so deep that she describes “every branch of her family tree having at least a sapling that crosses into the state.” She has a great-grandparent who preached at the oldest black Episcopal church in the state, one who was salesmen on Durham’s Black Wall Street, and one who helped establish the state’s first black high school.  

Image of NC Author Belle Boggs
Courtesy of Belle Boggs

Note: This is a rebroadcast. This program originally aired September 6, 2016.  

photo of Rissi Palmer
Rissi Palmer

Note: This is a Rebroadcast. This program originally aired July 15, 2016.

Singer-songwriter Rissi Palmer exploded onto the country music scene in 2007 with a self-titled album. She sang alongside Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, and her single "Country Girl" was the first song by an African-American woman artist to make the country Billboard charts in almost two decades.

Jon Eric Johnson

A woman dressed as a 1960s secretary sits in front of a rare vintage typewriter and asks people to engage in something even more rare – to share their unedited political opinions with a stranger. It’s all part of the “I Wish to Say” performance art project created by Sheryl Oring.

Image of Ivey Ghee and her mother, participants in the podcast 'Out In The South'
Jeff Sykes

The series "Out In The South" features the narratives of five generations of LGBTQ Southerners. It showcases residents' experiences navigating their identity in a cultural environment that can be supportive at times, and polarizing at others. The series includes a podcast and a written component published by Greensboro-based publication YES!Weekly

Triangle-based musician Jasmé Kelly grew up singing in church choirs and eventually decided to pursue music as an independent musician. Kelly combines her upbringing in gospel with popular blues and soul aesthetics in her new album called "Lady Jasmé."

Courtesy Sönke Johnsen

Sönke Johnsen was always driven by art. As a youth he captured documentary photos on the streets of Pittsburgh and developed them in a homemade dark room. Later he practiced and taught modern dance. But Johnsen's pursuit of artistic awe led him on a surprising path toward biology. Today, as a professor of biology at Duke University, he plunges thousands of feet under the sea, discovering mysterious marine animals that hide in plain sight. He has won multiple awards for his scientific writing, teaching, and mentorship.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The Trump transition team is in place and the president-elect says their work is going smoothly. Today’s picks include Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn for national security adviser. But critics have called the transition "chaos,” and many questions remain about the framework of a Trump administration. And at the state level, the governor's race remains in limbo. Incumbent Pat McCrory's campaign has launched ballot complaints in 52 counties.

Image of Dyanna Taylor and Dorothea Lange
Paul Taylor

Dorothea Lange is best known for her portraiture photography documenting America’s Great Depression. Her image “Migrant Mother” depicts a destitute woman with three children in California. It is one of the most recognized photographic portrayals of that era. When Lange passed away in 1965, her granddaughter, Dyanna Taylor, inherited one of her cameras and began to follow in her footsteps.

 

Image of Luray Performing Live
Courtesy of Luray

Shannon Carey grew up playing guitar in a musical family. She wrote her own songs in high school, but then started a career as a social worker and put her passion for music to the side. Years later she witnessed both of her younger brothers pursuing their musical dreams, one alongside the now-famous Bon Iver, and decided to pursue her own musical career.

Stack of Ballots for Super Tuesday
Wikimedia

The race for the state's highest office is still in limbo. County Boards of Elections are counting provisional ballots this week. Attorney General Roy Cooper leads Governor Pat McCrory by several thousand votes. But McCrory says the race is not over. Host Frank Stasio talks with capital bureau chief Jeff Tiberii about the latest. 

 

The 'Old Well' UNC-Chapel HIll
Caroline Culler / Wikipedia

The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, requested public records from the university about sexual assaults on campus. Journalists want to know who has been held responsible for sexual assault and how the perpetrators were punished.

 


An image of UNC's Old Well
yeungb / Wikipedia Creative Commons

The NCAA and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are at loggerheads over the ongoing investigation into academic fraud at the university. Recent correspondence between the two organizations, obtained by the News and Observer, shows the sports association no longer considers the university a partner in the investigation into fake classes targeted at student athletes.

An image of Dave Chappelle with members of A Tribe Called Quest Joribe White and Q-Tip
Rosalind O'Connor / AP

After years of mostly staying out of the spotlight, comedian Dave Chappelle hosted NBC's  "Saturday Night Live" last week. Chappelle's opening monologue mirrored the stand-up comedy that helped make him famous more than a decade ago. Chappelle's jokes grappled with a Trump presidency.  

Image of South African guitarist Derek Gripper
Coutesy of Derek Gripper

South African musician Derek Gripper has been playing classical music since he was 6-years-old. But after years of studying in Cape Town, he felt uninspired by the classical guitar repertoire available to him, so he set off on a journey to discover musical inspiration from around the world. He traveled first to South India, and then explored Brazilian music before he happened upon the instrument that changed the direction of his career: the kora.

students with laptops in classroom
Enokson / Flickr/Creative Commons

After an emotional election season, educators in North Carolina and around the country are figuring out how best to address the results of the presidential race in their classrooms.

An image of Bertha Landis with her children in 1985
Tom Davenport

For more than 80 years, the Landis family has gathered at their family farm in Creedmoor, N.C. for a family reunion. The event is a testament to the strong sense of place and kinship within the family.

Image of Ralph Snyderman with his parents
Courtesy of Ralph Snyderman

Ralph Snyderman had his first formative experience in a hospital when he was 12-years old. His grandmother was very ill, and it quickly became clear to him that being a physician was the most important thing he could do with his life. 

Headshot of Bill Marshall, Kenan Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina
Courtesy Bill Marshall

This past Tuesday, Hillary Clinton won 49 percent of the popular vote while Donald Trump won only 48 percent. Ultimately, Trump took home the presidency because voters don't elect the president, electors do. 

Bill Marshall, a UNC law professor, and former Deputy White House Counsel during the Clinton administration, breaks down how the Electoral College system works, and why it has led to differences between popular and electoral votes in two recent elections.
 

Kathrine Switzer, running the Boston Marathon in 1967, is attacked by the race director.
Boston Herald

When Kathrine Switzer ran the Boston Marathon in 1967, she didn't set out to make history. She focused on the same things that occupy the minds of many marathon runners: pace, timing, nutrition and exhaustion.

An image of classical musicians
Courtesy of Mallarme Chamber Players

Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn is most known for writing more than 100 symphonies in the 18th century. However, Haydn also wrote 175 compositions featuring a unique instrument: the baryton. The baryton is a string instrument similar to a cello in the front with six string that are bowed.

Image of newspaper front pages reporting on Trump's win
(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

A long and heated campaign cycle is over, and Donald Trump is poised to become the 45th president of the United States. Many analysts are calling Trump’s win the biggest upset in modern political history. As politicians and analysts examine the results, world leaders are also joining in the conversation.

An image of veteran farmer Alex Sutton
Courtesy Alix Blair

A new documentary explores the personal journey of North Carolina veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Alex Sutton. Sutton carves out a life as a farmer after three military combat tours in Iraq. But his path to healing is marked by stark contrasts between bucolic farm life with his wife and children, and the challenge of grappling with both post-traumatic stress disorder and his own post-war identity.

An image of writer Margot Lee Shetterly
Aran Shetterly

From the 1940s through the 1960s, a group of elite black women mathematicians known as "human computers" helped NASA put rockets, and eventually astronauts, into space. The women began working with federal aeronautical agencies at the Langley Research Laboratory during World War II, computing endless sets of data while enduring racial segregation and discrimination of the Jim Crow South. 

Roy Cooper at a podium with his wife, addresses his supporters in Raleigh. North Carolina gubernatorial candidates Cooper and incumbent Pat McCrory are locked in a tie with their race likely heading to a recount.
Brian Batista / WUNC

Last night, North Carolinians watched as successful candidates for President, U.S. Senate, and State Supreme Court took to the podium to thank crowds of exuberant supporters in their acceptance speeches. But one race is still undecided: the race for North Carolina's governor. Only a few thousand votes separated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory from his Democratic challenger Roy Cooper. 

President-elect Donald Trump won by nearly four percentage points in North Carolina. He is seen on stage clapping at a rally.
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Voters cast their ballots and elected Donald Trump as their 45th president. Trump won by nearly four percentage points in North Carolina. North Carolinians also re-elected Republican Richard Burr to the Senate, and Democratic Judge Mike Morgan as the newest  N.C. Supreme Court Justice.

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